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UK suspends fraternity pledge activities, orders hazing prevention training after death

·3 min read

The University of Kentucky on Thursday suspended all pledge activities for fraternities on campus after the probable alcohol death of a student, according to UK President Eli Capilouto.

UK is requiring new or additional training on bystander intervention and hazing prevention for all fraternity members.

Lofton Hazelwood, 18, died Monday, presumably of alcohol toxicity, after he was found unresponsive at the Farmhouse Fraternity.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said it’s too early to draw conclusions about whether the death stemmed from hazing.

“But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act to address issues when we see them and certainly this tragedy reinforces the obligation we all have to protect our students and provide them with the tools they need for awareness and understanding and to protect each other,” Blanton said.

All new member activities in Interfraternity Council chapters at UK are suspended indefinitely. “That includes all social, educational and formal interactions between new and returning members of the organization or chapter. This also includes official or unofficial new member events hosted by a chapter,” Kirsten Turner, UK vice president for student success, said in a message to students.

UK will require additional training programs for all members — new and current — that will focus on bystander intervention. In addition, all fraternity members will have to take an additional course around hazing prevention and university expectations.

“As we are reviewing the circumstances of Lofton’s death, we believe it is important to think about and act upon additional steps we can, and should, take to honor our obligations to you. It also is important that we, as a community, reinforce your responsibilities to each other,” Turner’s statement said

“As part of that effort, we want to take concrete steps to increase awareness and education about bystander intervention, hazing, alcohol use and education. We also want to underscore how serious these issues are — to our campus community and to your health, safety and well-being,” said the statement.

FarmHouse Fraternity, 456 Rose Ln., Lexington Ky. Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021
FarmHouse Fraternity, 456 Rose Ln., Lexington Ky. Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021

“These are initial steps,” Turner’s statement said. “We will continue to evaluate our training programs and Code of Student Conduct to ensure that our training requirements are as robust and effective as possible.”

UK this week suspended activities for the Farmhouse Fraternity while two investigations are conducted into Hazelwood’s death. In addition to UK Police, the university’s Office of Student Conduct is investigating.

In another development, Christian Wiggins, FarmHouse Fraternity CEO, said Thursday the international fraternity suspended the chapter’s activities concurrently with the university, pending the outcome of the investigation.

“Until the investigation is complete, we are not commenting further,” Wiggins said.

UK police found alcohol and filed a liquor law violation report for Farmhouse Fraternity on the day Hazelwood was found.

Police know that 20 people had been in and out of the room from initial interviews and would have had access to the alcohol. There were no citations because UKPD didn’t witness anyone drinking.

The details of the liquor law violation have been forwarded to the Dean of Students’ office for review.

UK is not the only university this week to suspend fraternity activities in connection with an apparent alcohol incident.

All fraternity activities at Missouri University, including social events, were halted indefinitely Wednesday after a freshman was taken to the hospital when he was found unresponsive during a fraternity house party, the Columbia Missourian reported.